Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/725

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lower officials, taking from them receipts which bore that they would refund the money in case Diether failed to meet the obligations given by his agents. He claimed that the amount was largely in excess of all precedent, repudiated the agreement, and disregarded the consequent excommunication. The result of this scandalous transaction was a series of disturbances which kept Germany in turmoil for three years. Leagues were formed to replace Frederick III by George Podiebrad, and to adopt as the laws of the land the Basilian canons, one of which abrogated the annates. Gregor Heimburg was sent to France to arrange for common action against the Holy See, and there seemed to be a prospect that Germany at last might assert its independence of the Curia. But the papal agents with profuse promises detached one member of the alliance after another, and finally Diether was left alone. He offered submission, but Pius secretly sent to Adolf of Nassau, one of the canons of Mainz, a brief appointing him Archbishop and removing Diether. This led to a bloody war between the rivals until, in October, 1463, they reached a compromise, Adolf retaining the title and conceding to Diether a portion of the territory. Thus the papacy triumphed through its habitual policy of dividing and conquering. There could be no successful resistance to oppression by alliances in which every member felt that he might at any moment be abandoned by his allies. Yet this fruitless contest has special interest in the fact that Diether issued, May 30, 1462, a manifesto calling upon all German princes to take to heart the example of injustice and oppression of which they might be the next victims, and this manifesto, we are told, was printed by Gutenberg—an omen of the aid which the new art was to render in the struggle with Rome.

Even more bitter was the conflict, lasting from 1457 to 1464, between Sigismund Duke of Tyrol and Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, as Bishop of Brixen, arising from his praiseworthy attempt to reform his clergy. In this struggle Sigismund had the support of both clergy and people and was able to disregard the interdicts freely launched upon the land, as well as to resist the Swiss whom Pius II induced to take up arms against him. He held out bravely, and the matter was finally settled by an agreement in which he asked for pardon and absolution, thus saving the honour of the Holy See.

If this was a drawn battle between the secular power and the Church, it did not lessen the effect of the triumphs which the Curia had won in the contests with the great Archbishops of Mainz. Unsuccessful resistance leads to fresh aggression and it is not to be supposed that Rome failed to make the most of her victories over the German Church. At the great assembly of the clergy at Coblenz, in 1479, there were countless complaints of the Holy See, chiefly directed against its violations of the Concordat, its unlawful taxation, the privileges granted to the Mendicant Orders, and the numerous exemptions. It was doubtless